Sunday, July 30, 2006

Thinking of Me

Since the Governor has millions to spend on advertising and many other opportunities to appear before audiences, I want you to think of Mike Hu and this campaign for the District 21 (Waikiki-Kapahulu) Representative, every time she says, “great Republican candidates.” That will obviate the need for my own massive fundraising efforts and the billions I would be spending for name recognition in this district -- which I rode the perimeter on bike yesterday, reconnoitering the territory and figuring out an outreach strategy.

Some of you will be receiving a modest request for assistance by regular mail tomorrow on one particular strategy for the high-rises, which actually should be a winner and create a greater sense of community in those buildings. The most difficult thing to see is the obvious -- and the simple, but it is the most effective, as well as impressive. It gives you, instant credibility in your own environment -- just as I have walking down my own.

Although I have been in contact with most of the heavy-hitters of the Party who offer a wealth of advice and experience -- even from out-of-state -- and of course, the generous offers of support from Nigeria and Kenya from perfect strangers of good intentions, I’ve decided to digest them all before synthesizing my own.

I recall on graduation day at Kaimuki High School in 1967, that one teacher came up to me and said, “You’re the best student I’ve ever had. Of course your writing and ideas were always better than mine. But I had to grade you down because you did not give me the answer I wanted -- which was the one I taught you. You refused, and always created a better one.”

That’s true for much of the social as well as the political scene in Hawaii -- this insistence that we’re here to carry on the old traditions, the old knowledge, the old memories -- rather than that the value and beauty of any culture and society, is responding to the challenges of the present times. So all that so-called education and knowledge is rather useless and counterproductive -- for those who will be the leaders of the future. And that is the problem our public schools have become -- not only here but everywhere else too.

They were conceived for another era -- and haven’t changed fundamentally since then -- while reality has. Information is no longer a scarce commodity -- and so a different set of skills and infrastructure is necessary for a person participating fully in life with all its possibilities. I think that is more relevant for the old than the young.

The focus in Hawaii, and many traditional societies, has been the justification and rationalization of everything “for the children,” “for the future,” and never for its own merits in the here and now. By discounting future value to infinity, anything might have value -- when it won’t in obvious, real time terms. So we do a lot of stupid things -- hoping time will eventually bail us out, or by then, we can be distracted by some other great panacea -- the wonderful Natatorium that will draw millions from around the world to marvel at that engineering miracle, after they have all dispersed from the Convention Center -- off of the NASA rocket ship that allows us to go anywhere in Honolulu, virtually instantaneously, for the same cost it would be to go to California.

So when the Governor says, “great Republican candidates,” think, “Mike Hu, Representaive District 21 (Waikiki-Kapahulu).”

Friday, July 28, 2006

Let’s Do the Math

I figure the first to reach 4,000 votes, wins the district outright, and if the Dems are discouraged by their non-existent prospects in the general election for the governorship, it might even be as little as 3,000. On my strategy to get one voter to get one other voter, that lowers the bar to 2,000 (1,500). Half of my precincts go Republican traditionally (Waikiki) and this year should be even more overwhelming as even those who say they are not supporting Linda Lingle as they did in 2002, when challenged if they would actually vote for the Democrat offering, said they would vote the Green Party.

The weakness of this district, as far as Republicans go, is the immediate, walkable area around me -- that if I can connect with, maintains the advantage the governor builds up in the high-rises. I think she is good for 66% (2-1), and beyond that, I just don’t think it makes a difference whether it is 75% (3-1), 80% (4-1), 90% (9-1). It just counts as one win. So I just hope she puts in a good word for me.

Then all I have to do is defend my own turf -- literally. Kapahulu is one of the oldest, most stable neighborhoods in the whole island -- so everybody knows everybody -- who actually lives here, and who does not but merely claims to. Even the Party props look strangely unfamiliar at the community functions. And what people are looking for, is how the politician relates not to the prospective voters, but to his own "friends."

That’s what I’ve tried to tell past candidates walking the neighborhood -- because unless they are already known and familiar, people look to the other as a testimony of one’s credibility. They don’t respond directly but indirectly. It’s kind of like an anthropological study -- to find the key people to interact with rather than each as the same as any other. In tribal societies and communities, everyone is not equal to everyone else.

There are respected elders -- who determine how most of their relatives and friends will be voting. Those people are not worth 2 but 4 -- at least.

That brings us down to about 1,000 solid contacts. And then when one makes that contact, one has to have the superior ability to relate to them -- with compelling campaign literature, shared recollections of everybody else in the history of Kapahulu, etc.

I like my chances.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Why I Am Running for the Legislature

My major involvement and reason for running to represent District 21, is to support Governor Linda Lingle’s transition to a 21st century government for the challenge of these times and beyond. In the old days, “leadership” was only about fighting off everybody else to get to the top, and once there, the only objective then was to take all the spoils and fight off everybody else to remain there as long as one could.

The modern view of leadership is that one is there for the people -- to serve the people until the people say, we want somebody else, we want another vision of the future. And so the people of Hawaii in 2002, voted for Governor Lingle and “A New Beginning,” to rethink ways we had been doing things -- just because we had always been doing them that way.

It already seems like a distant memory that four years ago, as well as most of the ‘90s, the economy and culture of Hawaii was depressed. People lost all hope that we could ever do anything right again. We were used to being last in the nation in every category -- and the previous governor’s job was to deny and undermine those findings -- so that nobody had any trust and faith in their government and leaders anymore.

Governor Lingle and the Republican Party provided the perspective of that vital second opinion -- that provides insight into the problems when just agreeing to ignore and deny them, always leads to predictable disaster. That happens when we have one party with overwhelming majorities that they can do whatever they like -- and flaunt that power, just because they can.

Many of us first encountered that attitude early on in school -- as the bullying and intimidation of those convinced that might makes right. Oftentimes, it was not the classroom bullies but the teachers themselves that perpetuated such injustices. And that is the meaning of the expression that "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

One day it is hoped that we don’t simply vote along party lines but only vote what is best for the people regardless of party. But first, we have to counter that lock-step mentality by increasing the presence of members in the legislature who will not go along just because the dominant party tells them to -- opposing every initiative that threatens the status quo of all those who have built up power and seniority and hope to hold on to it as long as they live, which doesn’t allow anybody else a chance.

I think that government that serves the people is a trust that should be rotated among the willing -- and not just be one person’s entitlement for life. And that is what a real democratic republic is about -- and not just labels we hope is true about ourselves. In that spirit, we first have to offer a clear choice of a commitment to new ways -- or just more of the same, with the familiar problems getting worse each year and costing more.

The most familiar of these is the problems of our present education system -- and the absolute requirement for the votes in the legislature to support meaningful change.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My First Day as a Candidate

The first task in becoming a candidate, is getting signatures of registered voters in your district; surprisingly, some people do not get past that hurdle. The people at the Office of Elections were very impressed that I had absolutely no trouble doing so, and had these big grins of amusement as I recounted my experiences to those who did -- working for weeks, to come up with the required 15. That does not bode well for their election chances -- because it means they are not well known (trusted) in their neighborhoods -- and don’t have the skills to win people over in that manner.

I hadn’t really thought about that very much -- as sort of a first test of one’s credibility and influence. People seemed to like me stopping by and talking to them -- and seemed profusely sorry if they couldn’t help, by being too young or unregistered. What was surprising was the number of people who said they were not registered; on the other hand, the few disqualifications I had, were the most adamant they were registered voters. So one is learning something all the time.

Very few stopped to demand answers to their challenging questions about what to do with the schools -- or what my platform was. I told them I was running mainly to support the governor’s proposals for change -- feeling pretty confident she gives much more thought to these things and consults with reliable advisors. But obviously, I do my own thinking -- but know when I can coast if the other has proven their judgment. That's also what leadership is about -- knowing who to trust and delegate rather than micromanaging and mastering every petty detail.

Most of the people are more impressed with one’s skills at relating to them -- as the best indication of whether they want you representing them. That’s how I have a decided advantage if I just get out there -- having lived in the Waikiki-Kapahulu area all of my days in Hawaii. That comes with the territory. That’s quite different if one has lived all their life in Kalihi or Mililani -- where strangers are less frequent.

I think that’s what people find most remarkable about me -- that I’m the most comfortable around others -- and that comfort is infectious. My communication style is not to create a division and distinction between me and the other -- but to share a perception, and understanding -- and if impossible, to quickly move on. I just ran into two people who were adamant in support of the opposition candidate -- and wished them well.

Many had the perception that the incumbent was not a good representative of this district because he was not a resident of this district -- and so had no feel for the people here. Me -- I was one of them, having lived all my life in Hawaii in Waikiki-Kapahulu, which has a very distinctive meaning for this neighborhood.

Edging into government

Scott Nishimoto never considered politics until a year ago, when a story calling for student leaders in the University of Hawaii newspaper prompted him to run for senator on the UH Student Council.

This school year, the 22-year-old serves as student body president for the nearly 15,000 undergraduates at the Manoa campus.

"I guess it happened by chance," explained Nishimoto, a senior majoring in sociology. "I never was involved with government in high school, elementary school. I never held that kind of position before."

But after high school, he wasn't involved in sports and felt something was missing.

The aspiring attorney spent six weeks this summer serving as a congressional intern for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye, a stint he says was a rewarding and eye-opening experience.

Although it was the first time the Mililani resident spent an extended time away from Hawaii, he was never far from home ties. One of his duties as Inouye's intern was conducting tours of the U.S. Capitol for visiting Hawaii folks.

"That was a real enjoyable part of it, seeing people from Hawaii," said Nishimoto, who also wrote letters to constituents and did research for Inouye's legislative assistants.

Even so, Nishimoto cut short his internship to prepare for the upcoming school year. Where last year's theme was to protest budget cuts and tuition increases, this year's focus for students is to cope with those realities, he said.

Nishimoto expects students to be just as active this year, and he hopes to get more people involved in government, a problem that persists largely due to Manoa's "commuter campus" atmosphere.

Meanwhile, Nishimoto feels at home in Manoa. He attended Manoa Elementary and St. Louis School before graduating from Mid-Pacific Institute. His mother, Patricia, works on the Manoa campus and his father, Melvin, works in the state Attorney General's Office.

As a youth, Nishimoto spent much of his free time hanging out at the UH athletic complex.

"I've lived in Mililani all my life, but I really grew up in Manoa," he said.

Pat Omandam, Star-Bulletin

Monday, July 24, 2006

Vote for Mike Hu (R), Representative for District 21 (Waikiki-Kapahulu)

Ever since his early years of public school experience, Mike Hu has been a leader in the Waikiki-Kapahulu area, singlehandedly recruiting the Pop Warner football teams and organized basketball league at Paki park and playground in the mid-60s, where he once sat between the better known politicians, Mazie Hirono and Randall Iwase, at Kaimuki High School.

However, after a year at the University of Hawaii, and curious to learn what the rest of the world was like, he spent the next 30 years living and working from coast to coast, and border to border on the US Mainland, before returning again in 1998. During that time, he worked in virtually every field of social and economic concern and activity, including teaching inner city school children with the Teacher Corps, in Louisville, Ky. Then he moved to Boston, Mass., where he was one of the pioneers in adult education, offering his “Scientific Weight-training” course at the YMCA when it was just coming to be popularly accepted.

Throughout his life, Mike Hu has always been on the cutting edge of new ideas and thinking -- frequently regarded as one of the leaders of the counterculture movement, and even the Democratic Party. Then in the 2000 presidential debate, he was shocked at the attempts of the favorite Al Gore, to intimidate and insult the challenger George Bush, as behavior no conscientious person should regard another. And that has been the unfortunate trend of politics and the mass media culture he will change.

Contributions greatly appreciated at:

Friends of Mike Hu,
3123 Esther Street
Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 561-3645